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Kiké Hernandez and the vagaries of baseball life

3/27/2015

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Enrique "Kiké" Hernandez was back home in Puerto Rico, on his way to the stadium where he plays winter ball, when he did something nobody should do, but many people find irresistible. He looked at his phone.

He clicked the direct messages icon on his Twitter app and found a congratulatory note from 18-year-old blogger/reporter Robert Murray, one of two teenagers who earlier had broken news of Billy Butler signing with the Oakland Athletics.

"I'm like, 'What are you talking about?' " Hernandez said.

Murray's response: "You're Kiké Hernandez, right?"

Hernandez: "Yeah."

Murray: "You just got traded to the Dodgers."

Hernandez, who had been traded from the Houston Astros to the Miami Marlins just 4 1/2 months earlier, pulled off the highway, turned around and merged going the other direction.

"My heart started racing and then it dropped," Hernandez said. "I went to my house. My parents were sitting in the living room with my two sisters. I'm like, 'I just got traded again.'"

It took some getting used to.

Hernandez, 23, was intent on competing to be the Marlins' everyday second baseman. When he glanced at the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster, his first thought was, "This is a really good team. I don't see where I fit here." Just when he started talking himself into it, into believing he could replace Dee Gordon at second base, he checked Twitter again and the Dodgers had traded for veteran Howie Kendrick. It felt like 10 minutes had elapsed since he learned he had been traded. It's a fast world.

"That's when I said, 'Well, I wonder where my spot is,'" Hernandez said. "I felt like that for a day or two, then I was like, 'Throughout my life or career I've never been handed anything. Stay positive, keep working toward the same goal.' Now, the way I see it, I've got a pretty good chance of making the team as a super-utility guy on Opening Day."

That may or may not be the case, but the Dodgers like Hernandez's versatility -- he can play every position but catcher -- and his bat. He has done nothing but help his standing by swinging an impressive bat this spring. After starting out 0 for 13, he is on a tear, having hit four home runs and two doubles in his last 14 games.

Not bad for a guy who was 5-foot-6 his junior year of high school. Hernandez has been fighting an uphill battle ever since then. He grew five inches his senior year and started to hit, so the Astros saw enough to take him in the sixth round of the 2009 draft.

At every stage, the Astros had doubts about him. They moved him to second base because they doubted his arm. Then they tried him in the outfield. When George Springer got called to the major leagues, they moved Hernandez to right. Last season, he played seven positions, including designated hitter.

So, making a Dodgers team with World Series hopes might be a stretch, but it wouldn't be the first Hernandez has had to make.